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Theory and practice

Considering how to communicate your research or engage others with the latest science, social science or humanities research? This book explores new and emerging approaches to engaging people with research, placing these in the wider context of research communication. Split into three sections, Creative Research Communication explores the historical routes and current drivers for public engagement, before moving on to explore practical approaches and finally discussing ethical issues and the ways in which research communication can contribute to research impact.

Starting from the premise that researchers can and ought to participate in the public sphere, this book provides practical guidance and advice on contributing to political discourse and policymaking, as well as engaging the public where they are (whether that is at the theatre, at a music festival or on social media). By considering the plurality of publics and their diverse needs and interests, it is quite possible to find a communications niche that neither offers up bite-sized chunks of research, nor conceptualises the public as lacking the capacity to consider the myriad of issues raised by research, but explains and considers thoughtfully the value of research endeavours and their potential benefits to society.

It’s time for researchers to move away from one-size fits all, and embrace opportunities for creative approaches to research communication. This book argues for a move away from metrics and tick box approaches and towards approaches that work for you, as an individual researcher, in the context of your own discipline and interests.

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Clare Wilkinson and Emma Weitkamp

As we have discussed in previous chapters, there are a wide variety of opportunities to communicate with publics, but beyond these exist other scenarios for engagement, including engagement with policy frameworks, which can also have their challenges. As with communication with a public audience, doubts can arise as to how to access, convey and work with stakeholders who are focused on political issues of governance; but just as in work with publics, increasing awareness of policymakers’ needs, operational practices and access routes can assist

in Creative research communication
Clare Wilkinson and Emma Weitkamp

Internationally, public engagement and communication has become an important aspect of research and policymaking, allowing research establishments, and their researchers, to explore public perspectives on their work as well as providing access to research findings to wider publics. Alongside this, a considerable research communication and public engagement community has emerged, who are interested not only in the design, techniques and methods for research communication and engagement but also approaches to communicating creatively and evaluating the

in Creative research communication
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Clare Wilkinson and Emma Weitkamp

This chapter will focus on ethics from a broad perspective, considering two main approaches. Firstly, the chapter will consider ethics from a communication and engagement standpoint, how to engage with participants ethically, incorporate informed consent procedures, consider any data that are collected, used and stored, give participants access to further information and follow any relevant ethical guidelines. Secondly, the chapter will explore wider questions regarding the ethics of communication and participation. Is communication about research just

in Creative research communication
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Clare Wilkinson and Emma Weitkamp

, whilst there are now multiple opportunities through which researchers are able to communicate – in the media, through popular writing, in online content, and so forth – there remain some particular opportunities to communicate in face-to-face settings, which can be seen to have particular benefits in reaching out from the figurative or otherwise tower. This chapter will introduce readers to opportunities for face-to-face communication and engagement activities. It will cover key approaches, including participation in the research process, moving through to

in Creative research communication
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Clare Wilkinson and Emma Weitkamp

Academics may be used to communicating their research findings to their peers, but when they become practitioners of communication and engagement they may not consider the need to communicate the success (or otherwise) of new or novel approaches to communication. Likewise, the practitioner community does not have the same drivers (publications are not metrics by which they are judged) to communicate findings from project evaluations or to synthesise best practice guidelines. As a result, the communication and engagement community are often criticised for

in Creative research communication
Helen Brooks and Penny Bee

continuous stakeholder engagement for research dissemination. Introduction Mental health care resources are finite. In order to ensure service users receive the highest quality health care, evidence about the most effective and acceptable treatments needs to be fully incorporated into health care policy and practice. However, we have known for a long time that this is not happening as well as it should be within health services and that research evidence is not being transferred sufficiently to routine clinical practice both in the UK and across the world. This is often

in A research handbook for patient and public involvement researchers
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Clare Wilkinson and Emma Weitkamp

shape the artistic experience. Artworks such as these may challenge our notions of what art is, as well as questioning the boundaries between art and science. Arts audiences A starting point for research communication is often to consider who you want to reach through the project. Different arts approaches are likely to appeal to different groups of people and to provide audiences (or participants) with different experiences and levels of engagement. Equally, we might distinguish between art that is created by an artist (and so might be viewed, read or

in Creative research communication
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Clare Wilkinson and Emma Weitkamp

Communicating your research can feel like a new discovery. Many of the researchers we meet have found that their passion to engage and to discuss their subject matter has emerged as a mainly solo pursuit, perhaps inspired by a passionate colleague, favourite television programme or an exhibition visit that occurred by chance along the way. This can leave many researchers unaware that the communication of research to others and their engagement with it has been a long-standing issue within research professions. The history of communicating research is

in Creative research communication
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Clare Wilkinson and Emma Weitkamp

Web 2.0 technologies open up many new opportunities to engage publics at all stages of the research process, from design, through data collection and processing, to dissemination, and in a variety of different ways. These can range from fairly passive approaches that provide content for those seeking information (e.g. via project web pages) to highly interactive approaches, such as games and apps. These projects are enabled by a growth in technology, both hardware and software, that enables interaction and engagement and makes it easier for individuals to

in Creative research communication